New Google CEO sweeps in with company reorg

Page wastes no time in shaking up management

Wasting no time, Larry Page, who became Google's CEO on Monday, quickly moved to shake up the Internet company's top management.

A Google spokesman confirmed to Computerworld on Friday a realignment of the company's management structure. The spokesman said the restructuring is aimed at "streamlining" Google management, putting one person in charge of each of Google's "functional groups." These groups are generally based around products, such as search and the Android platform. Those changes were announced to Google employees Wednesday.

He also said the restructuring didn't come with any layoffs.

"Page is definitely coming at this out of the gate," said Colin Gillis, an analyst at BGC Financial, a New York-based investment firm. "He doesn't need to wait and get the lay of the land. He knows what he wants to do and he's hitting it pretty fast."

Citing an unnamed source, the Los Angeles Times reported that part of the management shakeup included several key promotions. Andy Rubin was named senior vice president of mobile; Vic Gundotra, senior vice president of social; Sundar Pichai, senior vice president of Chrome; and Alan Eustace, senior vice president of search.

Each group manager is now autonomous, reporting directly to Page.

The restructuring at Google shouldn't come as a surprise. Page made that clear when it was announced in January that he would be replacing CEO Eric Schmidt.

The only surprise is how fast it happened.

Ezra Gottheil, an analyst with Technology Business Research, said the speed of this move is telling about how Page is going to run the show. "I think it answers the question about why Schmidt left," Gottheil said. "There was a divergence in vision. Page wants to move faster."

The first change in Google's management team came the same day that Page took over as CEO.

On Monday, Jonathan Rosenberg, Google's product chief, announced that he plans to resign. By all accounts,a pivotal player at Google, Rosenberg is expected to leave the company in the coming months. At this point, it's unclear who will replace him, or if he will be replaced at all.

Page, who all along has been part of the triumvirate behind Google's success that also included Schmidt and co-founder Sergey Brin, is making it clear that he's in charge. Some, though, wonder why Page would shake things up at a company that has achieved such wild success.

Rob Enderle, an analyst with the Enderle Group, said Google is in need of a big switch up.

"The firm lacks focus. Its brand is suffering from a long list of crappy products, and it's still largely living off that first big idea which probably won't last," he explained. "It is actually much sicker than its revenue, which is more like an annuity at this point, represents. They needed to do this, but they need to do it well."

Enderle added he's concerned that by creating groups that report only to the top, Page is creating fiefdoms. And that, he said, could lead to trouble.

"It can fragment the company into warring groups, which eventually could kill the company," he said. "Done right, however, the approach is similar to what successful military organizations do and it is a textbook MBA approach to managing a large company ... The approach is very powerful if done right, but Google has a history of learning by doing and execution could be a problem here as well."

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed. Her e-mail address is sgaudin@computerworld.com.

Read more about management and careers in Computerworld's Management and Careers Topic Center.

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Sharon Gaudin

Computerworld (US)
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